Renovating and Maintaining

12 Questions for Your Home Renovation Contractor

Home renovation contractor shaking hands with client

A big home improvement project inspires a lot of fun questions: What kind of hardwood floors do you want? Which material do you want for new kitchen countertops? How will you decorate a newly added bedroom? If you’re hiring a contractor to help you tackle a big project, you’ll need to ask them a lot of questions, too, to help everything run smoothly.

Before you hire someone to get started on the work, be sure to ask your contractor these 12 key questions.

Do your research

Choose a contractor who has the experience to deliver a job well done.

1. How long have you been in business? You’ll want to find out how much experience they have with the specific type of job they’ll be working on for you. It’s also a good idea to secure a list of references or check social media sites for candid feedback.

2. Do you have proof of licensing and insurance? Both licensing and insurance are important for your contractor to have. Insurance can cover accidents that may occur on your project, while licensing is often required for certain cities, counties or states

3. How many projects are you currently working on? If you’re the contractor’s only client, it could be cause for concern if no one else is hiring the business. At the same time, you can also get a sense of the contractor’s schedule, and whether they might be too busy to dedicate the necessary time and resources to your home project

4. Who is responsible for securing permits and inspections? It can often be easier for you if the contractor takes care of securing any permits needed, though it’s recommended you still be part of any inspections. Also check if the contractor has secured permits in your area recently—this likely means they are familiar with local codes.

 Nail down logistics

When it comes to defining the scope of your renovation, the more details the better.

5. What is the project timeline? Clearly define when the project will be started and scheduled to finish. Have a plan to address any changes that might come up.

6. What is the payment schedule? Are you required to make a down payment or deposit? Will you be paying on certain dates, or by phases of project completion? You should never be required to pay in full upfront.

7. Is this bid an estimate or a fixed price? If a bid is an estimate, you could end up paying more money by the time the project is finished. Make sure you have a plan for any change orders for additional unexpected work. Seeing an itemized bid can also help you understand exactly how you will be charged.

8. Can I see a detailed, written contract? Your contractor should provide you with a clear breakdown of what you have agreed to regarding scope of work, materials, timing, payment and liability.

Understand the details

Finally, be sure you’ve discussed what daily work on the project will entail—after all, the work will be taking place in your home.

9. Will you use subcontractors or a dedicated team? Know who will be supervising any workers and if you can expect the same people to be there each day.

10. What will an average workday look like? Have an understanding of when work will begin and end, and what noise levels you can expect.

11. How will supplies be cleaned up and stored each day? Come to a common definition of what it means for workers to “clean up” each day.

12. What’s the best way to be in touch? Understand if it’s better to reach your contractor by phone, text or email, and how frequently you’ll receive updates about the project.

Make your hiring decisions with confidence and know that your dollars are being well-spent by walking through these questions before starting a home renovation.

Nail down your budget.

Find the home improvement financing that's right for your situation.

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